What components of school play spaces would encourage children to be physically active?

Document Type


Publication details

Hyndman, B & Telford, A & Finch, C 2010, 'What components of school play spaces would encourage children to be physically active?', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, vol. 12, suppl. 2, pp e141-e142.

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Schools are an important setting for children's physical activity. Evidence suggests that playgrounds have the potential to enhance physical activity levels and play opportunities. Although schools are acknowledged as a key setting for physical activity, it remains unclear what factors within play spaces facilitate children's physical activity and which are potential barriers to activity. The aim of this research was to undertake a qualitative investigation to explore children's perceptions of which factors within play spaces would encourage them to be active.

Method: Focus group discussions and cognitive mapping across four schools was conducted, each with 6–10 children aged 8–15 years were used until saturation of themes was obtained. Each focus group and mind mapping session ran for approximately 30 min in duration. Questions focussed on children’s perceptions of existing play spaces, their ideal play space and what factors within a play space would encourage them to be active. The maps were analysed for themes, and for the frequency with which particular objects and locations appeared. The qualitative research software NVivo will be used to identify emerging theories.

Results/conclusion: The results of this study will contribute to a broader understanding of children’s perceptions of play spaces and inform the development of schoolbased physical activity interventions designed to implement changes within the school playgrounds environments.